“Pleng’s Song,” By Patrick Maher, April 2012, Kindle edition, $3.82, 63 pages, booksmango
These days, more adults are purchasing Kindles for their pre-teen and teenage children. “Pleng’s Song” by Patrick Maher, an American author living in Thailand, is a delightful addition to the world of children’s digital books.
Unlike some digital books on the market, the content of “Pleng’s Song” is both pleasing to read and not offensive to children or adults. Without giving away the ending, the gist of the story is that even a “privileged” child’s life is not necessarily easy. The heroine of the story, 11-year-old Pleng, attends a prestigious school but deals with realistic issues such as an alcoholic parent and her own low self-esteem.
Some of the book is a little far-fetched, but isn’t that the point of novels especially those for children? Pleng battles a number of earthly and possible supernatural elements as floodwaters threaten her very existence.
Maher, who dedicates his second book to his children Fiona and Seamus, wrote most of “Pleng’s Song” while he and his family were trapped in their house for five weeks during the Thailand Flood of 2011. The flood, one of the greatest in the Southeast Asian country’s history, killed more than 800 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. Maher decided to use the time to create a lasting remembrance for his children.
In Thailand, “Pleng’s Song” is readily available as a paperback. But the best way for American parents and children to get a copy is via Kindle. Fortunately, there are free computer software programs that allow people to enjoy Kindle books even without owning the electronic reading device.
The length and beautiful yet simple language Maher uses make “Pleng’s Song” a quick and easy read for children and parents alike. While the work does not go into great detail about Thailand’s rich culture and somewhat troubled history, the novel is a good introduction to life in one of the world’s most beautiful countries.